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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN
Super Storm Sandy Devastates U.S. East Coast; Interview with Mayor Cory Booker; Another Huge Fire Breaks Out After Sandy; Obama Headed To New Jersey Today; New Jersey Rails Devastated; Obama To Tour Storm Damaged Jersey Shore; Virginia Bomb Explosions; Border Agent Plea; Surfer Fights To Survive Shark Attack; Victory Parade; Recovery Will Be "A Mammoth Job"; Shades Of 1979; Trick Nor Treat; NY's LaGuardia Airport Closed; Sandy's Impact On Travel
Aired October 31, 2012 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, welcome, everybody. Our starting point this morning: surviving Sandy. Recovery begins in the wake of this superstorm as nearly 7 million people remain in the dark. Thirty-three Americans killed; entire communities under water.
Desperate for help, thousands rescued from the floodwaters. Many more of them still need help even as those waters begin to recede.
Eighty homes gone. A fire rips through a quiet community in Queens, New York, leaves nothing but ashes. Now there's danger from methane gas.
At a standstill, New York City's subway system remains shut down. Could be days before many northeast transit systems are able to get back to normal.
Touring the damage this morning, President Obama heading to New Jersey to see the destruction for himself. Alongside him will be Governor Chris Christie. The election just six days away.
And Sandy unfortunately is not done yet. The superstorm is currently over Pennsylvania and heading towards Canada. CNN covering the story like no other network. Rob Marciano reporting for us this morning. Deb Feyerick here in New York. Sandra Endo, Brian Todd are reporting from New Jersey for us. And Dan Lothian is at the White House.
It's Wednesday, October 31, and STARTING POINT begins right now.
Welcome back, everybody. Our starting point is breaking news this morning in Breezy Point, Queens where we've soon showing you some of these pictures yesterday, that massive fire that burned 80 homes to the ground when hurricane Sandy hit New York City. A CNN crew on the scene is reporting to us a strong smell of methane gas. A utility pole spontaneously burst into flames earlier this morning. FDNY Officials are now assessing whether the gas levels there are excessively high in this neighborhood, and that could force those fire crews to evacuate.
Right now, 6.6 million people still without electricity across 15 states and Washington, D.C. Nearly 2 million of them are here in New York where flooded subways has transportation at a virtual standstill, not to mention all the property damage and destruction, including those 80 homes that were consumed by that fire in Queens. Recovery from super-storm Sandy could be, as Mayor Michael Bloomberg is calling it, a massive, a mammoth job. Meteorologist Rob Marciano is in Chelsea, New York, this morning with the latest on the damage there. Rob, good morning.
ROB MARCIANO, METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Soledad. Well, some of the damage behind me, one of a few buildings that were ripped off. Nobody hurt miraculously. Lower Manhattan is still in the dark. Day two now and it could be several more before it's all said and done. The estimates are between two and four days before places south basically of about 30th street will be back online. You go outside of the city and up towards Westchester County, it could be as much as ten days. Just down the street from us the Con Ed headquarters, yesterday we chased down the incident commander there up in the war room or situation room as they call it. We got his thoughts on the storm in general, and the system that he has to supervise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN MIKSAD, SENIOR VP, CON ED: Substations are only part of the problem. We had the luxury of an underground network in Manhattan. There are no poles. No wires. It's very reliable, most reliable system in the country. But it's not designed to mixed with salt water, sea water. So that's something we're going to have to look at, especially if these things start happening more frequently.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARCIANO: So the substation that pretty much controls all lower Manhattan is on 14th and 1st Avenue. So that got flooded. It was built to withstand a 12.6 foot storm surge, that would be historic. That's what we're dealing with. There've been several people coming in across our area without power. You have been without power for a couple of days. You're going to go to work today. You're going to walk. How many blocks?
DENNIS BESLIC, LOCAL RESIDENT WITHOUT POWER: Walking, about 40 blocks to get to work. Been without power since Monday night. Spent all of yesterday just trying to get uptown to where they do have electricity to buy food, batteries, got a pizza to bring home.
MARCIANO: People go without power outside of New York all the time, but is this different in New York for some reason, elevators in the buildings, for one. How are you and your neighbors reacting to this in general?
BESLIC: I mean, we are lucky in that we are on the second floor, so it's not too big a walk up. And you know, you just try to get by. For me, kind of the scary thing was seeing the side of this building fall down. We saw the pictures Monday night while the storm was still going on. So that was a little scary. But yes, you get your supplies to make do with what you have and you hunker down. That's what we've been doing. MARCIANO: Trying to get back to normal. Good luck.
That's the message. Yesterday was kind of a, you know, a bit of a shock, now we're getting to recovery and obviously the message is try to get back to normal as much as you can. But with the infrastructure shut down, with electricity out and mass transit still, you know, crippled, it's going to be a problem. Isn't it?
O'BRIEN: Yes, it's hard to say get back to normal. Thanks, Rob. Appreciate that.
President Obama is going to be touring storm-ravaged New Jersey today along with Governor Chris Christie. They're both getting an eyeful in Hoboken across the river from Manhattan. They've called in the National Guard to assist with evacuations there. In Bergen County a berm breach left hundreds of homes submerged. About 1,000 people have already been rescued. More could be trapped. And in the Atlantic City area, where Sandy made landfall, entire neighborhoods are now buried in sand and debris. Sandra Endo is live for us in Atlantic City this morning. Good morning, Sandra.
SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. The rescue and recovery effort is under way here in Atlantic City. We're on a main street here in Atlantic City. Several blocks from the waterfront of this bayside community, and to give you an idea of just how far that flooding was in effect here, look at this kayak that was washed ashore right here on this main drag. And also take a look at this. This is a small houseboat that was ripped, torn apart from the pier. You could see it was tied on to a piling right here and this was basically washed ashore, and is stuck in the middle of this intersection.
And this is the kind of damage that President Obama will see firsthand when he comes here later this afternoon. He will also talk to first responders here and victims of this storm. As you mentioned, Soledad, he will be joined by a Republican Mitt Romney supporter, actually, Governor Chris Christie. And the Governor said this is not about politics. This is time to get New Jersey back on its feet. Six people died here, 2.6 million people lost power because of this storm.
President Obama took three days off of the campaign trail because of the storm, and now he really has to straddle that fine line of coming here to console families, to look at all this devastation, while trying not to make it look overtly like a photo-op. So certainly it will be interesting to hear what he has to say and that image of him with Republican Governor Chris Christie later here this afternoon. Soledad?
O'BRIEN: I have to imagine both will say this is not the time for politics. This is a time for rescuing those who need to be rescued and rebuilding those who lost everything. Thank you, Sandra.
In a few minutes we're going to be talking with Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker. John Berman has a look at some of the other stories making news this morning. Good morning. JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Soledad. We have some breaking news this morning. These are pictures you're going to be looking at of fires burning on that barrier island. Fire crews working to reach the island to put out the fire. We don't have any retails yet on how it started. You'll want to stay with CNN for all the breaking details on this story. Again they're having a hard time getting there.
Other news, 12 tons, 250,000 pounds still dangling 90 stories up, you're looking at live pictures in New York City. It could take weeks to secure this huge crane boom left dangling by Sandy. And the plan may involve getting a new crane up there, in order to secure it. This you're looking at here is video of the moment the boom collapsed. There it goes. And when asked how secure it is right now, Mayor Michael Bloomberg responded, nobody knows. Reassuring.
New York City police airlifting six people off their rooftops in Staten Island to safety. Five adults and one child were stranded by rising floodwaters. The helicopter used in the rescue is named 23, in honor of the 23 NYPD officers who died on September 11, 2001.
Six days now until Election Day and new polling out this morning from three critical battleground states, the latest CBS/"New York times"/Quinnipiac Poll has the President with a five-point lead in Ohio, with Virginia and Florida much higher but also ever so slightly in the President's favor. A new CNN poll of polls shows Mitt Romney holding a one-point advantage over the President nationally.
The Romney campaign hits the reset button today after being idled by super-storm Sandy briefly. The Republican challenger makes three campaign stops, all in Florida, attending rallies at Tampa, Coral Gables, and Jacksonville. His campaign was buoyed by an endorsement from "The Telegraph" in Nashua, New Hampshire. The editorial board writes "We are confident Romney is the candidate who would tackle serious issues facing this nation starting with jobs, the economy and the debt. In the end we couldn't say the same about the President." That paper endorsed Barack Obama in 2008.
And we're getting late word that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will kick off a four-day tour starting on Friday. They'll be joined by their wimps and some 100 other surrogates will be standing out around the country, among them secretary of state Condoleezza rice, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.
O'BRIEN: Talk about a final push.
BERMAN: We guarantee it for Barack Obama, too, we just don't have the details yet. And Tuesday is election night. Finally you will want to join CNN's live coverage of election night in America beginning at 6:00 p.m. eastern time. It's upon us next Tuesday night.
O'BRIEN: In the dark with candles. Hopefully not.
Back to our STARTING POINT this morning, states from North Carolina are still dealing with power outages from super storm Sandy. Cory Booker has been out on the streets of Newark, New Jersey, helping residents there, also taking requests. He joins us by phone now. What do you think the biggest problem is in your state? Is it power outages?
MAYOR CORY BOOKER, (D) NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: Well, definitely the power outages. We're starting to get back to many residents but we still have tens of thousands of people without power. That poses a lot of challenges. We've had some carbon monoxide problems. We've had, unfortunately, fires. Firefighters doing a lot of work right now in power outage related incidents.
And then you have people who rely on power for medication refrigeration, for medical devices, elderly trapped in high rises who really can't get down ten, 15-plus flights of stairs. So we've been scanning out around the city doing our best to service people, from delivering hot meals, to just keeping our medical personnel up and down in high rises, checking in on people, transporting people who need it. But this is going to be, you know, difficult days ahead as the power slowly gets restored.
O'BRIEN: We've been looking at pictures while you've been talking from not only Newark but also from some of the cities and towns around Newark where they've had massive damage. You can see seaside where there's tons of sand in people's homes, the flooding that's taking place. Really, New Jersey has been hit very, very hard. How many folks do you have still in shelters?
BOOKER: Well, you know, first of all, I just want to say that you know, as I go around the city and my sentiments are the same, the sections of New Jersey were hit so much harder than Newark, really a devastating impact on entire neighborhoods, towns, displacing thousands, hundreds and hundreds of thousands without power. So our hearts and prayers are with our fellow New Jerseyans as they deal with this difficult time. I've been in and out of our shelters a lot the last 24 hours. We've had hundreds of people coming in and going out. Tonight we still have in our main shelter between 100 and 200 people.
It's going to be a challenging time. We know we have difficulties ahead in Newark. Upstate right now is the worst crisis we've seen in a long time and all of us here are just praying as the challenges continue that families and communities are able to pull through. We just faced a very, very strong storm. But I know here in the state of New Jersey we are strong.
O'BRIEN: Many politicians, frankly, don't really want to talk about politics at this time because you've got citizens you're trying to help or rescue in some cases. But I want to ask you a political question. Many have been talking about the New Jersey governor Chris Christie who's been praising the President for his response to helping out in New Jersey. I want to play a little bit about what governor Christie told me yesterday and ask a question on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) NEW JERSEY: I have to say, Soledad, right now I'm much more concerned about preventing any other loss of life, getting people to safe places, and then we'll worry about the election. The election will take care of itself. I spoke to the President three times yesterday. He's been incredibly supportive and helpful to our state, and not once did he bring up the election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: You know governor Christie has, you know, I don't need to tell you this, he's sort of "I call it as I see it" kind of guy. Many people have found this surprising. Do you find that surprising?
BOOKER: Not at all. We are in a state of crisis all across this state. And you know, when you're in a crisis, you don't stop and ask your fellow New Jerseyan, your first responder, you don't ask if they're Republican or democrat, you don't ask them how they choose to pray to their god. You just pull together and do what's necessary.
And when it comes to responders, we advocate in New Jersey, federal, state, county and local people all working. And let's call it as it is. President Obama has been really hands-on in this. The Governor's heard from him numerous times. I've been on calls with him numerous times. He's taking a personal interest. He's been reaching out to the head of PSE&G, talking directly to that CEO. So he's been doing an incredible job, cutting through red tape, connecting directly to those affected.
And I saw it late last night in one of our public housing authorities, the floods, power outages, the challenges, looked him in the eye and let them know that the President -- I talked directly to the President. He has a direct concern about what is happening right here on the ground. So this isn't politics. Right now this is just people, human beings, facing human tragedy, and pulling together to do something.
O'BRIEN: Mayor Cory Booker joining us this morning by phone. Thank you Mr. Mayor. Appreciate your time. Good luck with all the cleanup, not only in your city.
Still ahead this morning, we're going to talk about these homes that were burned to the ground. This is the "Daily News" this morning. Take a look at this picture. Look at this. It's a little tough to see but these are homes that have been burned, this entire swath in Queens, New York. We're going to talk to a man that lost the house he lived in for 35 years in this deaf stating fire that consumed breezy point Queens. And the fury of super storm Sandy. You may not believe your eyes when you see what happened to this tree. That's ahead.
Christine has a look at what's coming up in business news.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Until Sandy hit it had been 100 years since the New York stock exchange was closed for two days because of weather. In 1888, a blizzard back then. What does today have in store? Markets open today. You're watching STARTING POINT.
ROMANS: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans minding your business. Finally U.S. financial markets will reopen today after being closed for two days from hurricane Sandy. U.S. stock futures are trading higher this morning. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will ring the opening bell at the stock exchange today.
Most big banks have waived their fees for customers affected by Sandy. All the banks shown here have waived some fees, including overdraft fees, late fees on loans, and also fees for using out-of-network ATM machines, which just seems natural because you don't want people trudging around someplace out of the way to try to get money out of banks.
O'BRIEN: Absolutely. Christine, thank you.
We have some new developments to tell you about in breezy point, Queens, that's where a massive fire, we showed you the pictures yesterday morning, destroyed 80 homes, maybe more. Hurricane Sandy was bearing down on that city. Now there's a strong smell of gas in the area. Utility poles apparently spontaneously burst into flames this morning. Deb Feyerick is live in the area with the very latest for us. Deb, how is it this morning?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Soledad, still, everything, if you take a look just past me here. As you say there was a strong smell of gas. Firefighters were here trying to figure out whether it was some sort of methane leak, an open gas pipe or whether, in fact the problem here is that there are a lot of septic tanks and that also creates methane.
Firefighters have been putting out these sort of small fires that have spontaneously been erupting. They were doing that for the most part all day yesterday. And you know, when we look at this area, this, we're talking about really 80 to 100 homes, an entire community where everyone knew each other, where, in fact, the way you would cool down your houses in the summer was simply to keep your doors and windows open so that the breeze would pass from house to house.
This place called Breezy, everybody goes oh, breezy, breezy. It's such a great summer community. Houses are going to rebuild. That was the question everyone was asking this morning. It's not just the houses that were on fire, Soledad. You know, over here just to give you a perspective, this is an incredibly heavy planter, can't even budge it. And the water was above these cars. So you've got car damage. You've got home damage, even the ones along the bay, completely destroyed, completely devastated. Right now, they're keeping an eye on the situation. They're going to be having search and rescue teams just to make sure that nobody's unaccounted for, Soledad.
O'BRIEN: Deb Feyerick for us in breezy point, Queens. Looks just so eerie behind you, deb. Just awful.
FEYERICK: It really does.
O'BRIEN: I want to get right to Mike Long. He lost his home in that very fire. He's the chairman of New York's conservative party joining us by phone. I have to say Mr. Long, really, the pictures are just so devastating. I'm showing pictures of the actual fire when it was under way, burning out of control, firefighters couldn't even get close because of all the water that was in the area. I was stunned to hear that nobody died in this fire. I mean, there's a glimmer of good news, it's that.
MIKE LONG, CHAIR, NEW YORK'S CONSERVATIVE PARTY (via telephone): Well, if there's anything like I've had my home, as many other people did, we had our homes for 35 years, fond memories, great place to raise a family and have summer fun, but the most important part there was no fatalities, which is really amazing. I'm sort of blessed, people there, get them all out. Many of them listened, not everybody, but many of them listened and evacuated when the community asked everyone to get out with what was coming.
O'BRIEN: So we're showing pictures of what it looks like this morning, and people have described this as if a bomb was dropped on the area. And I think that's a very apt description. How do you rebuild? I mean where do you -- where do you start from the devastation so bad?
LONG: Well, you know, I'm going to be honest with you, it's hard for me to even wrap my arms around it. Where do we begin? Hard for me to wrap my arms around the fact that it happened. Its' not having a dream that your house disappeared.
And this is a community of great people, people that were really slowly affected and badly affected at 9/11. They lost a lot of loved ones in that community. And they'll unite. They'll band together, and it's going to take some time. It's going to take quite some time. But I know that community will rise again, and become a great summer place again for families throughout New York.
O'BRIEN: We are all rooting for you to rebuild. It's just heartbreaking to look at those pictures. Mike Long, who lost his home of 35 years in that Breezy Point fire in Queens. Thank you for talking with us, sir. We appreciate your time this morning.
O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT, so what would you do if this happened to you? We're going to tell you about a father who described the heart-pounding moments when his wife and newborn baby had to evacuate NYU Langone medical center because their generator and backup generator failed. Yet it was not particularly chaotic. The nurses stepped in and stepped up. The orderlies evacuated people out of that hospital. That's straight ahead.
BERMAN: So they say a picture is worth a thousand words but that would be shortchanging this next piece of amazing video. Watch as Sandy changes the landscape of Matthew's backyard in Huntington, Long Island.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There it goes. There it goes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Can you imagine watching this, filming this as it goes down? Oh, my. You can only assume he was filming it from his house. But that is amazing video.
O'BRIEN: What about his neighbors on the other side of the fence?
BERMAN: One of the most striking images of hurricane Sandy happened at a hospital in New York City. The NYU Langone medical center had to be evacuated after a backup generator failed. Charles Rosenbaum and his wife Kim were in the middle of it all. Their daughter Alice was born Sunday morning four weeks prematurely. They're all doing fine this morning. But the outage sure caught Charles by surprise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were up in my room, and on the 13th floor, when the power went out, the generators went on. It was about 7:00 p.m. And then shortly after that one of the generators failed and the power on our side of the floor went out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: I didn't hear a word he said. I'm looking at that beautiful baby girl's face.
O'BRIEN: And, I was giving birth.
BERMAN: Talk about hard times.
O'BRIEN: Exactly. Wow, amazing. The folks from the hospital talked about that evacuation and said that the staff was amazing, that it was very calm, orderly. The nurses were incredible helping the babies out of the NICU.
BERMAN: There were 1,000 people involved in getting everybody out.
O'BRIEN: We've got to take a break. Still ahead on STARTING POINT we'll take a live look at the new fires that are now raging in a New Jersey town. We'll have more on what's happening.
Also, today President Obama is going to get an up close look at the devastation along the Jersey shore. He'll be touring with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Governor Christie's been one of his harshest critics. STARTING POINT is back in a moment.
O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. We're following some breaking news this morning. Massive fires have broken out in New Jersey in an area that was already hard-hit by Sandy.
It's happening and those are live pictures you're looking at. It's the shore town of Mantoloking. Police in neighboring area say they are aware of the fire. It's a little island and it's impossible to get to.
So those who are reporting what they're seeing are seeing it from quite a distance. They believe it's in the Camp Osborne section and there are homes. You could see that in the shots there, but there are homes there.
People in that area were told to evacuate ahead of Sandy, but lots unknown at this point. It's unclear how many people are actually there. It's unclear how the fire started. And it's also unclear especially how much it's spread.
It looks like there are a number of fires that are burning there from these pictures, but it's really hard to tell. I'll obviously have more information as people are able to get in and more information, as well, as light comes up and we get a better sense of what's happening there.
Meanwhile today, President Obama is going to get a close up look at the devastation that was left behind by this superstorm Sandy. In the Atlantic City area, where Sandy made landfall, pretty close to that, hundreds of homes remain buried now under sand and debris.
Hoboken, just across the river from Manhattan, called in the National Guard now to assist with evacuations. Bergen County, remember yesterday we were talking about that berm breach where maybe 1,000 people were affected and many of them, as you see in pictures here, had to be lifted out of their home's second floors or even off rooftops.
They think that they've been able to pull out about 1,000 people, but it's unclear how many more people need to be rescued. Right now, Sandy, we feel here in New York that Sandy has gone away, but for everybody else who's in Sandy's path, has not -- are feeling effects.
It's hitting Pennsylvania now then it's going to go through Western New York and then it's going to head towards Canada. Want to get right to Brian Todd who is in Moonachie, New Jersey, this morning.
We showed pictures from Moonachie yesterday that berm breach. What's the latest from where you are this morning, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Soledad, they're getting some relief here because the water has receded from yesterday. Twenty hours ago, it was a very severe crisis here, with the flooding just, you know, engulfing this section of Moonachie and two adjoining towns, Little Ferry and Carlstadt.
People are starting to come back to their homes today. We see people streaming back into the neighborhood, but there are hazards involved in doing that. Check this out. You've got a downed power cable line here. This scene is repeated on street after street in these neighborhoods.
People have to be very careful. A lot of them, a lot of these lines are just barely visible. As we said the water is starting to recede. This whole street was flooded all day yesterday. People had to be rescued from this area.
The water has receded. Still fairly deep at the end of the street here, but it has gone down a little bit since we were here earlier this morning. I mean, you compare this scene to yesterday, very, very dramatic scene, water rescues, there were swift water rescue teams going house to house knocking on doors.
As you mention, Soledad, people getting plucked from the roofs of their houses. It was just incredible scene. Officials here tell us that probably no fewer than 3,000 homes were either damaged or almost destroyed by that breach of the Hackensack River at a berm not too far away from where I'm standing here.
So they're just starting to recover. People filtering back into the neighborhoods now, Soledad. Today is a day to assess damage and it's going to be heartbreaking for thousands of people coming back.
O'BRIEN: God you have to imagine it will be. That's just terrible. Brian Todd for us this morning. Thank you for that update.
We mentioned just a few moments ago that President Obama was going to be joining New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. They're going to be surveying the hardest-hit areas hit by superstorm Sandy.
Governor Christie is one of Mitt Romney's top supporters. Dan Lothian is live in our D.C. Bureau with more on that. Hi, Dan. Good morning.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Well, it is. Some are looking at it as an odd pairing up of a critic of the President, embracing the President in this fashion, not only the President himself, but also the overall administration, Governor Christie saying that the Obama administration acted very quickly in not only declaring the state of emergency for the state of New Jersey, but also a disaster declaration.
So he had a lot of kind words for the President. They will be joined, as we pointed out, together, getting a chance to see some of the damage up close, but also the President will be talking with residents there who have been affected by the hurricane, and also talk to first responders.
What you're seeing from the White House is a real aggressive effort to show that the President is staying on top of this disaster, releasing a couple of photographs of the President inside the situation room, getting briefings.
Overnight, I'm told by a White House official, the President got a number of briefings, and will get another briefing this morning, a briefing that's been described as, quote, "substantial."
And this follows a call that the President jumped on late last night, with some utilities executives where he told them that he -- his administration would cut through the red tape and make sure that they can get the resources that they need.
And I'm told that as a result of that meeting these electric companies will be embedding a representative with FEMA in order to better coordinate the response -- Soledad.
O'BRIEN: I certainly hear of that. Power outages a big problem here. Dan Lothian for us this morning. Thank you, Dan. Appreciate the update. John Berman's got a look at some of the other stories making news today. Good morning.
BERMAN: Thanks, Soledad. Police in Virginia are looking for the source of three homemade bombs. Investigators want to know who set off explosives outside two Stafford County homes early Tuesday morning. The two incidents have been linked to a third explosion Tuesday inside a house in Fredericksburg. Luckily no injuries were reported.
A guilty plea in Arizona from a Mexican man accused in the December 2010 murder of 40-year-old U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Manuel Osorio-Arellanes could be facing life in prison when sentenced this January.
The 36-year-old man said he got into a gun battle with a group of border patrol agents including Terry while he and four other armed men were looking for drug traffickers to rob.
Another California surfer attacked by a shark. The 25-year-old is fighting for his life after he was bitten in his chest and abdomen yesterday. A deputy in Eureka saying one of the wounds is a 14 inch gash.
Other surfers helped pull him out of the water, loaded him unto a truck and rush him to a hospital. Less than a week ago another California surfer was killed in a shark attack off the coast of Santa Barbara.
Meanwhile the city of San Francisco holding a parade today in honor of the San Francisco Giants, this year's World Series champions. Remember they swept the Tigers just a few days ago. It seems like ages ago.
Up to 1 million fans were expected to help celebrate the Giants sweep. Parade kicks off on Marcos Street at 11:00 this morning. It will end with a victory celebration at Civic Center Plaza. Congratulations to the Giants.
O'BRIEN: They look like the picture of tired but happy.
BERMAN: Who knows when I'm on that flight on the way home.
O'BRIEN: Lots of celebrating, I'm sure. Our team this morning, Governor George Pataki is joining us. He's the former governor of New York, now counsel at the law firm of Chad Burn and Park. Ben Smith is back. He is the editor in chief of Buzz Feed. You guys lost power in the middle of the storm, didn't you?
BEN SMITH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, BUZZ FEED: Data center flooded out.
O'BRIEN: We'll talk about that a little bit later. Richard Socarides is a writer for newyorker.com. Homeless this morning, right? No power for you in the wake of the storm.
RICHARD SOCARIDES, WRITER, NEWYORKER.COM: No power.
O'BRIEN: And we've asked John Berman to stick around as well from "EARLY START" doing the news for us.
Let's talk a little bit about the impact from this storm, and, and what I thought was a great moment was not everybody agrees with me, but when Mayor Bloomberg goes to the Spanish, and now for those who speak Espanol.
SOCARIDES: His Spanish sounded pretty good.
O'BRIEN: His Spanish is technically excellent, but his accent -- he needs to work on that.
GEORGE PATAKI, FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR: You know what matters is the effort.
PATAKI: Twelve years -- I speak (inaudible), which is incomprehensible to any Spaniard, but -- at Bloomberg levels and it really matters.
O'BRIEN: I agree. I love it.
PATAKI: Even if he mangled the pronunciation or get the grammar wrong the fact that you're making the effort counts enormously.
O'BRIEN: I think it does.
SMITH: Governor Pataki and Bloomberg actually like studied Spanish. It is not the glamorous thing to do as a politician.
SOCARIDES: He worked very hard at it. He's done it since he's been mayor. I mean, this is not something he learned in school. I mean, he made an effort to learn this while -- since he's been mayor.
O'BRIEN: Let me ask you --
PATAKI: We would do press conferences together, and then the Tel Mundo and Univision would come after me in Spanish and Mayor Bloomberg would stand there and look and I know his wheels were turning and say, wait a second.
O'BRIEN: He said I'm going to learn Spanish.
PATAKI: He has done the right thing.
O'BRIEN: Here's my question, at some point this turned from a story about here's the devastation, here's the loss, here are the people we're still trying to rescue and help to looking back.
At some point you've got to say what went wrong and how do we make sure we don't lose generators for a major New York hospital, that you keep water interest getting into the subway system. Do you think this storm was too big and what happened is just unavoidable?
PATAKI: We're not there yet. You're absolutely right at some point it's appropriate to figure out what went wrong and how do we prevent it from happening again. But first of all you have to get through the crisis.
And listening to what you were talking about, people still at risk. Fires breaking out in New Jersey, still millions of people without power and we thank God that the lights don't go out.
If you're on the 18th floor of a building, a senior citizen, in need of some medical care and there's no elevator that could be a health emergency. So at this point all the effort has to be on public safety, and trying to restore power, transportation, and the other essential needs of the people affected.
A few weeks down the road, a month down the road, then it's important not just to say all right, let's recreate what was here. Let's figure out how we can do it better to prevent it the next time.
BERMAN: I think not just government officials need to learn a lesson but citizens too. Soledad, you and I were both in zone "A," the evacuation zone and everyone talked about the worst case scenario could have been going into it.
One of the things they said was flooding. We could see major flooding. We could see the subways flood. We could see power go out here and of course, that's what ended up happening. I think next time we get these warnings people are going to listen much more closely.
SOCARIDES: It was interesting that Governor Cuomo said that we should think about maybe building a levee in around parts of Manhattan. I mean, he said that, sounds like a pretty good idea. I know that in New Orleans, when this happened, right, that they took some -- they redid everything.
O'BRIEN: And remember that's New Orleans consistently getting hammered by hurricanes and that's not really what we experience here. Last year and this year --
PATAKI: And New Orleans is below sea level --
SOCARIDES: When so much is at stake here. I mean, I'm not suggesting that there's more at stake in New York than anywhere else. But you know, the stock exchange, the financial district, I mean, New York, parts of New York are the center of commerce for the whole world.
I mean, you know the whole world depends to some extent on New York functioning. And today a lot of New York downtown is still functioning.
SMITH: Massive public works project, $10 billion, things like that. I mean, the amount -- doesn't seem like there's a way --
O'BRIEN: Toward all those sea gates in New Orleans, they're massive because they have to be and they're expensive because they have to be. This is a question we'll talk about later this morning.
FEMA, you know, what is the role of FEMA? Do you pay for FEMA? FEMA is expensive. The cost has gone up. We'll talk about that a little bit and we'll talk a little bit as well about the election, you know, six days away. What happens to that? That's going to be ahead this morning.
Also ahead this morning going to talk a little bit more about the devastation left behind by the storms. Take a look at this. Airport turns into a lake basically. This is LaGuardia, LaGuardia Airport.
My husband was asking, trying to fly back, he said so when do you think I'm going to be able to fly back into LaGuardia? I said let me send you a picture from Twitter. That will answer it. All of that and much more ahead. We're back in just a moment.
BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. Gasoline at a real premium in New Jersey this morning after the superstorm Sandy strike. The Asbury Park press is printing the names of local gas stations that are open.
We're getting reports of really long lines at the pump and that could continue for weeks, because the garden state's rail system is devastated and may not be back online for quite some time.
Halloween interrupted. Cities and towns impacted by superstorm Sandy with downed tree limbs and power lines have postponed Halloween trick- or-treating tonight.
In New York State, the traditional Greenwich Village Halloween Parade was postponed, but Mayor Bloomberg says it may be rescheduled next week. The storm also wiping out Halloween festivities at the White House.
O'BRIEN: Be careful, trick or treat -- kids really want to know this, trick-or-treating is still on.
BERMAN: So kids if you're watching, keep your bags on.
All right, New York LaGuardia airport remains closed due to flooding from hurricane turned superstorm Sandy. The airport tarmac looks more like a lake after the storm hit. No word on when LaGuardia will reopen.
It doesn't look like any time soon. It is one of three major airports here serving the New York area. Both Newark and JFK reopening today, though, so that is good news and maybe your husband can get home.
O'BRIEN: He's going to head home coming into JFK I'm told.
All right, still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, John mentioned planes grounded, people stranded. It could be days before travel not just in New York, which is what we were talking about, but around the nation, and internationally, will get back to normal. Richard quest will join us to update us on what you need to know coming up next.
O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Some good news to start with Newark, JFK airports have reopened. That happened less than an hour ago. LaGuardia though is still shutdown due to flooding.
The airport closures due to superstorm Sandy, of course, have a ripple effect nationwide. CNN's Richard Quest is live in Atlanta for us with the overall travel picture. Good morning.
RICHARD QUEST, HOST, CNN'S "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": Good morning, Soledad. I certainly don't want to sort of (inaudible) on the news that Newark is open, but that just means that the FAA has technically reopened the airport.
It does not mean that flights or anything like that -- if only for the fact that there are no planes there. Of course, the airlines flew the planes out. Now we'll have to go to the process of bringing them back in again.
So although you may see online that the airports are open, technically, that's just a logistical thing. Reality, there's very little flying. So, for example, Teterboro remains closed until lunchtime and LaGuardia also remains closed.
And you can see what's happening at Kennedy, if you look here. These are mainly JetBlue planes that are now positioning themselves up into Kennedy for the official reopening, which takes place at noon Eastern Time.
Those are planes coming in from the west and up from the south into Kennedy. It will be some hours. In fact, it will be many hours before the flights get anything like back to normal.
On those airports that are reopening, if we talk about Newark, as I say, it's going to be hours before there's anything like -- we're not even seeing on that flight explorer, we're not even seeing flights going into Newark.
They're not even there yet unless they're positioned overnight. There's very little chance of anything normal taking place. We'll follow that up. LaGuardia airport remains closed and, you know, it's a sad case of the lights are on, but there's nobody home at least in terms of passengers or aircraft.
This is a live picture bringing to you of LaGuardia at the moment. You can still sort of see the water coming into LaGuardia there. That's the situation.
If you're looking at other transit disruptions this morning, because if you can't get round, you may have thought, I can't go by air. I'll try to go by rail or by bus. New York, as you are aware, remains closed on the MTA for the transit. Look at Boston. It is now restored. Philadelphia has rail restored. Washington has rail restored.
Rail restored in Washington. In terms of long distance travel on the railways, Amtrak, the rule with Amtrak, Soledad, seems to be south of New York and Washington. Everything seems to be picking back up again. North of New York and things picking up again. No (inaudible) on the corridor between Boston, New York, and Washington and very limited service elsewhere.
But once again, Soledad, my fundamental message, it may say the airport is open. But, please, there's virtually very little flying certainly so far at Newark.
O'BRIEN: You're just a bringer of doom and gloom this morning.
QUEST: I'm sorry. I'm sorry.
O'BRIEN: I know. I hear you. Thank you, Richard. Appreciate it.
Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, President Obama will get an up, close look at the devastation that was cause by Sandy today. And by his side will be Republican Governor Chris Christie. We're going to talk a little bit about Sandy and the impact, potentially, on Election Day.
Top of the hour, we'll hear from Jen Psaki. She is with the Obama campaign. And the NYPD takes to the skies to try to pluck folks from the rooftops as flood waters rose up. It's incredible image as we continue our coverage of the aftermath of the superstorm. Back in just a moment.
O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning, surviving Sandy. Recovery begins as nearly seven million people remain in the dark. At least 40 Americans have been killed by Sandy.
Entire communities are underwater this morning. New Jersey, one of the hardest hit areas. Right now, fires are burning out of control in that state. Emergency crews though can't get to them because of the hurricane damage.
And desperate for help, thousands of people rescued from the floodwaters. Many more, though, still need help, even though the waters are beginning to recede. Eighty homes gone. A horrible fire that ripped through a quiet community in Queens, New York, is leaving nothing but this, what you're looking at, ashes.
At a standstill this morning, New York City's subway system still shut down. It could be days before many northeast's transit systems are able to get back to normal.
Touring the damage, President Obama is heading to see New Jersey and the destruction there with the election just six days away. And, unfortunately, Sandy is not done yet. The superstorm currently is over the state of Pennsylvania and it's heading towards Canada.
CNN has this storm and the aftermath covered like no other network.